Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (Jio) announced on the World Telecommunication Day 2021 its progress on constructing the largest international submarine cable system centered on India, the India-Asia-Xpress (IAX) and the India-Europe-Xpress (IEX) subsea cable systems. IAX and IEX cable systems will provide more than 200Tbps of capacity spanning over 16,000 kilometers.
The IAX system connects India, the world's fastest growing economy, to Asia Pacific markets with express connectivity from Mumbai and Chennai to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. The IEX system extends India's connectivity to Italy, landing in Savona, and additional landings in the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from the seamless connection of the IAX and IEX subsea cable systems, the two systems are also connected to the Reliance Jio Global Fiber Network beyond Asia Pacific and Europe, connecting to both the east and west coast of the USA.
The AAE-1 cable system marks Jio's first investment in international submarine cable system.
In early 2020, Jio announced to build IAX and IEX cable systems, the supply contract was awarded to SubCom in the same year as well. Due to certain concerns, the projects were moved forward silently before the new announcement.
"Jio is at the forefront of India’s explosive growth in digital services and data consumption. To meet the demands of Streaming Video, Remote Workforce, 5G, IoT, and beyond, Jio is taking a leadership role in the construction of the first of its kind, India-centric IAX and IEX subsea systems,” said Mr. Mathew Oommen, President, Reliance Jio in a statement. “Implementing these critical initiatives in the shadow of a global pandemic is a challenge, but the ongoing pandemic has only accelerated the digital transformation and the necessity of high-performance global connectivity for the delivery of a richer experience to enterprises and consumers.”
Jio acquired a total of approximiately US$15billion equity investment from Facebook, Google and another 11 global investors in 2020. Facebook and Google are now the 2nd and the 3rd largest shareholders of Jio, holding 9.99% and 7.73% of Jio's shares respectiviely, following only Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) which holds 67.03% of Jio's shares.
Being the largest operator in India, Jio has a good financial standing. Although it was not announced, it is believed that Jio will deploy the IAX and IEX projects in conjuntion with Facebook, Google, a Chinese operator and other international parties.
Supplied by SubCom, IAX and IEX cable systems will be designed with open cable system technology and the latest wavelength switched ROADM/branching units, ensuring rapid upgrade deployment and the ultimate flexibility to add/drop waves across multiple locations.
IAX is expected to be ready for service mid-2023, while IEX will be ready for service in early 2024.